Skip to main content

Our Healthiest Offer Ever! Book 4 Nights, Stay 5th Free + Health Service

 Ends 6/30 (opens in new window)

How Understanding Emotional Dynamics Empowers Your Parenting

Apr 24 2024
4 min read
Woman and child doing yoga

Discover the impact of emotional intelligence on your parenting strategies and cultivate deeper connections with your children.

Emotions wield incredible power over us.

One moment we feel in control – the next our kids start fighting or we receive and unexpected email, and it completely alters our state of mind.

Our ability to manage these emotional jolts impacts not only our own well-being, but also that of those around us. As parents, we're both modeling for our children and administering, or deflecting, the emotional jolts that impact them.

Here, discover how engaging more positively with your emotions helps you — and your children — build emotional resilience.

So, where exactly do our emotions come from?
Emotions are energy in motion. Emotions come into your body and prompt you to act. Your actions result from an intricate web of influences your have experienced in your life: from how your family modeled emotional management to your friends to cultural influences and media like TV, movies, and social media.

Based on how you learn to process your own emotions, you may suppress your negative emotions only to then have them surface later when you get hungry, tired, or triggered by something – or someone – in your life.

What is emotional well-being?
Emotional well-being resembles navigating a highway with rumble strips. Negative emotions, like the rumble strips, serve as warnings, prompting you to pause and reassess. Do you notice them and course correct, or do you drive right through and get stuck in the weeds?
To put it simply, emotional well-being is the practice of employing strategies that keep you from getting bogged down by negative emotions.

How can you foster emotional well-being?
We all have emotions we struggle to deal with. Looking at the chart below, what are the emotions you're uncomfortable feeling?

Emotions cheat sheet

It helps to imagine an emotional spectrum where the middle represents our window of tolerance – a concept coined by Dan Siegel that refers to the zone where we effectively manage our emotions. On one end, you have chaos, where emotions overwhelm and disorient you. When you're in chaos, you can feel overwhelmed, become controlling, or say things that are hurtful because the chaos in your brain comes out as energy in another way.

On the other end, there’s rigidity, where emotions are suppressed or denied. When you're in a state of rigidity, you'll do whatever it takes to keep you from feeling. In either case, your emotions push you beyond your window, and you aren’t able to tolerate feeling the discomfort.

How to Develop a Wider Window of Tolerance
Improving your emotional well-being begins by noticing emotions versus simply reacting to them.

Start by noticing where the emotions surface in your body. Does your chest get tight? Do your palms get sweaty?

The window of tolerance graph

The next time you identify an emotion, explore it with three key strategies that can help you expand your window of tolerance. First, be brave by sitting with the emotion and allowing yourself to feel it without judgment. Be curious and ask yourself how you might react differently than you did the first time. And, always, be kind and patient with yourself – and others.

How does understanding emotions help you be a better parent?
If we don’t have the skills to tolerate our own uncomfortable feelings, how can we model those skills for our children? By increasing your emotional well-being, you can help your children develop their own emotional resilience.

Strategies like confronting doubt and anxiety head-on, being more comfortable asking for help, and delegating to relieve stress in your life can help you become a more present, parent in the long run. With a few simple changes you can hit the rumble strips of life and not stay in the weeds.

Courtesy of Debbie Rosen, Founder and Co-Owner of The StudyPro. LEARN MORE

Headshot of Mary Cahilly, MA, LMHC, LPC, CCTP at Canyon Ranch Lenox

About the Expert

Headshot of Mary Cahilly, MA, LMHC, LPC, CCTP at Canyon Ranch Lenox

Mary Cahilly

MA, LMHC, LPC, CCTP, Mental Health & Wellness Therapist

Mary is dedicated to helping her clients remember the truth and beauty of who they are. Weaving transpersonal psychotherapy, mindfulness approaches to wellness, and her understanding of neuroscience, she teaches her clients how to pause and access their own inherent wisdom as they move through life’s challenges and celebrate life’s preciousness.

Read Full Bio